Friday, February 3, 2012

Bulldogs Land in Anchorage for Weekend

Bulldogs Looking to Get Back on Track

UMD has cut their teeth over the course of this season. They have proven that they are not rebuilding after a national championship. Still many writers and college hockey enthusiasts want to say that UMD’s recent “swoon” was going to happen…”see I told you so.”

In reality, every team that has been in the top 10 of the college hockey world this season has gone through a rough patch. Many of the same people thought Minnesota – Twin Cities, Boston University and Notre Dame were or are going to take over and run away as number one. They haven’t and neither is UMD.

It is not time to think about giving up on the Bulldogs as an elite team this season. But this weekend in Anchorage does present an opportunity for UMD to continue down a slippery slope more than raise their profile.

UMD should win the series this weekend against UAA. Anything less will be looked at nationally as disappointing, maybe even a failure. Just take a look at our StackPack comparison between the teams. This is a series where you hear those overused, and mostly meaningless, “trap game.” Lots to lose, not much to gain.

Here is what UMD is playing for:

  • Getting their winning ways back after a hiccup,
  • Solidifying one of the all important top two spot in the WCHA and
  • Using the games in hand to catch up to UMTC in the WCHA standings for the home stretch.
What is scary about a series, this series, in Anchorage:

  • Bulldogs power play and penalty kill have to get better (currently six games without a PP goal),
  • UAA is playing for pride, they have nothing to lose and
  • Trips to Alaska are always physically hard on the players.
We don’t want to say “do or die”, because it’s not. But we, and all Bulldogs fans, want to see how the team responds to the setbacks of the last couple weeks. So drink some coffee and get ready to listen to the Bulldogs in Alaska!

Predictions by Fiskness.  Here are my picks for the week, another important one in WCHA play. If things go right for either Denver or CC either one could find themselves in second place in the standings. Meanwhile UMD is hoping to bounce back with a sweep to get within one point of the first place Gophers who are off this weekend as well as North Dakota. After this weekend, all the top half teams of the WCHA will have played the same number of games.

Minnesota – Duluth at Alaska – Anchorage: Duluth let a victory slip from their hands on Friday only to follow it up with a JV effort on Saturday. The Bulldogs road record is great this year and a trip Alaska might be what the doctor ordered to get back to the level they were playing earlier this season. The Seawolves have not won since a road win in Colorado Springs on December 9 and they haven't had a home win since November 18. UMD will get the sweep as the Seawolves just do not have enough talent to keep pace with the Bulldogs.

Colorado College and Denver (home and home): The final weekend series of the season for this interstate rivalry. Denver has put together a nice little win streak for themselves beating the teams they should (Huntsville, Bemidji and Anchorage). The Tigers on the other hand have been splitting series. Both teams know the need for points and will end up with a split.

Michigan Tech at Minnesota State – Mankato: The Huskies came off an impressive three point weekend in Duluth and continue their road trip through Minnesota. The Mavericks of Mankato took points last weekend with a split in Bemidji. Can the Huskies ride the momentum and come away with more points on the road? I think a letdown is in the cards and Mankato gets the split.

Bemidji State at Nebraska – Omaha: The Beavers have given some good teams fits this season, but most of their tight series have been at home. Earlier this year when these teams played in Bemidji the Mavericks of Omaha took three points. The Mavericks are still trying to find consistency in net as they move towards the playoffs. I think the Beavers will have a tough weekend to find any points and may salvage a tie if they can keep the Mavs scoring down. UNO wins one game and ties the other with the Beavers.

Saint Cloud State at Wisconsin: The Huskies had a disappointing home and home against the Gophers last weekend getting swept in two low scoring, and low shots on goal for SCSU, games. The Badgers went to UND and fought hard, but got swept too. The pattern continued for the Badgers as they struggle on the road. A home series is just what they are looking for this weekend. However, the Huskies defense will play good enough to get a split this weekend in Madison.

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